Playing with a full deck

Netflix enters the serialized drama game in a big way today as the service begins streaming House of Cards, a superbly rendered remake of a critically acclaimed 1990 British miniseries of the same title.
Unlike the usual model of airing one new episode per week, Netflix is giving subscribers a chance to binge on all 13 episodes of this riveting new production, which charts the Machiavellian course laid out by conservative U.S. congressman Francis “Frank” Underwood (Kevin Spacey) as he schemes to bring down his political rivals after a newly elected president reneges on his promise to name Frank secretary of state. Egged on by his beautiful but icy wife, Claire (Robin Wright), Frank ruthlessly uses both his South Carolina charm and a penchant for blackmail to build a coalition of power, exploiting an ambitious young reporter (Kate Mara) who is willing to help spread Frank’s poison while keeping him discreetly off the record (which, admittedly, occasionally strains credibility).
The first two episodes, helmed by Oscar-nominated film director David Fincher (The Social Network) and made available for advance review by Netflix, have the gloss and sophistication of a major Hollywood feature, and the supporting cast includes a superb roster of actors drawn largely from the New York theater community (you may not know their names, but you’ll recognize several of them from appearances on the various Law & Order franchises). If the remaining episodes sustain that high standard, you’ll probably be hearing House of Cards among the nominees during next awards season.
Netflix has ordered two seasons of the series, a total of 26 episodes, and is making the first episode available free to non-subscribers at the following link: http://nflx.it/TYwxGY.
Additionally, Netflix subscribers who want to go back to the source can stream the entire original UK miniseries, which starred Ian Richardson in the main role and garnered international acclaim of its own. Whether you prefer your political intrigue with a British or American accent, Netflix is dealing a winning hand with House of Cards.

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